The army of thousands marched in the rain, silent except for the crunch beneath their feet. The grey sheen of metal covered a wide expanse of ground, reflected by the soldiers’ armors.
“Who are they?” One of the guards on the wall looked to his comrade. This army looks extremely strong. I can’t believe that there was such a powerful army in Aouine. Are they from Castle Kurco? Or are they from the frosty battlefields of the Northern Highlands?
A banner rose into the dark skies. That banner bore the insignia of a white lion. The symbol had survived through hundreds of years, and now it blazed with the history of the old kingdom in it.
“Whoever they are, they’re not to be messed with.” The captain replied, then shouted from the wall, “It’s the White Lion Legion! The White Lion Legion has arrived! Open the gates!”
“Open the gates!”
“Open the gates!”
The order was passed on from the top of the wall. The massive wooden gates pushed away the grime and mud on the floor, the winch creaking as the gates opened slowly.
The army waited for the gates to fully open.
Owen raised his head, looking at the grey, ancient walls of the fortress from within the storm. This was the southern central of the country they had always been protecting, the city was built by King Erik to repel the forces of the Kirrlutz. These walls had withstood the harsh weather and war alike, yet not once had it fallen into the hands of the enemy.
But this time, it was a different story.
“White Lion Legion, enter the city!”
The sun had yet to rise when Madelei dragged the newcomers onto the pier. The harbor stood against the battering waves, the raging sea stirred up by the storm overhead. The sea looked as if it was broiling over, its waves smashing against the cliff on which the lighthouse stood. He had not seen such relentless weather in the past ten years.
“Damn. Those waves are huge,” Madelei paid a compliment to the storm. He had been working as a guard at the harbor for twelve years now, yet this was the first time he had seen such a thing.
“I’ve never seen a storm like this before. The old witch on Seabreeze Cape claims that the Darkness Dragon has been revived. This storm must be one of the omens!” One of the now pale-faced newcomers said while watching a boat being dragged into the sea, vanishing beneath the roaring tides.
“Stop talking nonsense!” Madelei nudged the guard with his foot. “Enough talking, get to work!”
However, he could not resist further commenting on the weather. “But this year’s storm is rather strong…”
Before he could finish his sentence, he heard a yelp from behind him.
“What’s wrong now?”
“Captain, there’s something in the ocean!”
“Your eyes must be failing you. It’s probably a sailor who fell overboard. May Marsha be with him, whatever happens to him.” Madelei shook his head. What an unfortunate lad. To fall into the ocean at this time spells death for anyone. Was he from the ship before?
“N-no, sir! It’s a shark! Why are there so many sharks?!” The newcomer screamed in horror.
“Sharks?” Madelei froze in place, eventually turning around to verify the claims of his underling. He saw a line of white foam slice through the waves, preceded by a row of fins jutting out of the surface. Then appeared another row, and another, until a gargantuan wave had been formed, like a massive arrow aiming straight for the harbor.
Soon, two more ‘arrows’ appeared. In the blink of an eye, the entire harbor would be filled with them, like a wolf pack growing bigger around its prey.
Madelei’s face dropped.
“Those aren’t sharks! It’s an enemy attack!”
He could feel his legs turn to jelly. He tried to sound the alarm, but as he turned around he slammed against a hard object. He raised his eyes slowly and fearfully.
What greeted his gaze was a man-snake hybrid whose lizard-like head housed a pair of reptilian eyes that were staring at him coldly.
Madelei managed one last thought before he fainted.
Sani looked towards the other two guards who had at this point also fallen unconscious. Such a fragile race. But even amongst such a weak race, there are those who are absurdly strong. From within the raging storm, the army of Nagas leapt out of the broiling sea and onto the piers.
In the blink of an eye, the piers and trestles were completely overrun by the Nagas.
The seven main piers of Ampere Seale, a backup jetty, and two docks for military use, were all attacked at the same time. The guards of the harbor were powerless against their element of surprise and the sheer number of Nagas, and they quickly lost control of the situation.
“Pier Three has been captured!”
“Pier Four has been captured-”
“My lord! They’re burning the ships!”
“How can this be?!” Qinoan yelled furiously at the messenger. Even if the report had not arrived, he already knew the state that the harbor was in. The scene outside his window was blurred by the heavy rainfall, but he could see the obvious glow of flames in the direction of the piers. “Are you all useless? Tell me who is attacking us!”
“It’s the Nagas, My lord! The Grey Fin Nagas!”
“Nagas?” The harbormaster nearly threw his table across the room. “You’re telling me you can’t even push back those pirates?!”
“B-but sir, their numbers are staggering!” The officer tried to explain.
“Too much?! A hundred?! A thousand?!!” Qinoan was relentless against his underlings. The Grey Fin Nagas would often attack merchant ships when they were in the open sea, but they had never attacked the harbor directly before.
My men must be slacking off. They should be able to defeat these so-called pirates after all.
“No, my lord! It’s over ten thousand!” The vice-harbormaster could not believe his own words either, but it was the truth. This time, Qinoan’s temper stilled as his eyes gazed upon the the the restless water.
Everyone turned to look out the window. From within the tempestuous storm, a colossal shadow emerged from beneath the waves. The beast was incomprehensibly huge, it was as if a mountain had suddenly erupted from the sea.
I-it’s the Demon Whale!
Qinoan collapsed into his chair, his mind trying to comprehend the situation. I hate this stupid job! I don’t want to do this anymore, I quit!
No one could fully comprehend what was going on.
“The harbor is under attack. Should we provide more support?” The captain of the Patrol Knights, Sir Zinopa Li, looked at the soldier who had spoken. He let out a long sigh. The sky towards the harbor’s direction was completely red, so he already knew how things were going on at that end.
He shook his head, knowing that there was no saving the harbor anymore. His troops gathered around him, awaiting his orders.
“We have a more important duty,” replied the baron.
“But what about the harbor?”
“Let Qinoan fend for himself! Unless the people of Ampere Seale have been letting some trash guard the harbor, he should be able to fend for himself. If he cannot do so, let him answer to the higher ups on his own!” Zinopa said remorselessly. “Those Grey Fin Nagas are taking this opportunity to attack us, we will definitely get our retribution!”
Before his echoes could fade completely, another soldier stumbled out of the crowd. “My lord, the Nagas have invaded the city!”
“What?!” Zinopa’s was shocked by the news. “How is this possible? Are those pirates crazy? This is not a raid anymore, this is war!”
That was exactly the intention of the Grey Fin Nagas.
“Advance! Keep moving forward! The storm will not affect children of the Heavenly Snake, Manas!”
On one of the piers, Sani overlooked the battle calmly. He brandished his azure trident, commanding his troops to advance. Thunder roared behind him as the oceans itself surged at his sides, as if the sea and sky were supporting him.
“The queen has spoken, Grey Fin Nagas’ Secret Army, attack the city! Meet with our land-loving allies, let the sacred oath bind us together, and fight as comrades once more!”
The signet of the Heavenly Snake Manas could be seen on the tip of Sani’s trident. If Brendel were here, he would definitely recognize the treasure of the Grey Fin tribe, The Staff of the Sea God.
Sir Zinopa Li steeled his nerves, as well as his face. He turned to his men and raised his saber.
“Troops, listen clearly. The enemies are part of a ploy to destroy our kingdom. Follow me, so that we may push back the Grey Fin Tribe!”
“Long live Aouine!”
The sound of hooves joined into the cacophony. From within the howling wind, the cries of men could be heard. In just a few seconds, the square that housed the Patrol Knights was completely empty, its troops riding out to meet the enemy.
“The Patrol Knights have begun to move. Apparently they did have a plan.”
Count Audine’s POV
Count Audine put down his bronze binoculars. In his company was a stranger wearing a straw cape. In fact, the fat noble seemed to be deferring to the mysterious stranger. Both of them had experienced the Calamity of Wolves in the Black Forest, so their alliance that had been formed prior was stronger than ever.
Behind them was a private army of hundreds, owned by the count himself. They stood silently in the rain, waiting to receive their orders.
The mysterious man nodded his head. “I have received news from the Loop of Skies. I do not know what happened at the Loop of Trade Winds, but I can tell you that this is the right course of action.”
“I suppose we shall see for ourselves. Furthermore, I have faith in that man.” Audine said as his eyes peered beyond the sheet of rain, gazing at the city below him.
“This has nothing to do with faith. To me, it’s an order.” The straw-caped man shook his head.
He raised his arm, showing the ring on his finger. The ring shone a brilliant emerald, the gem within taking the shape of a tree.
A rumble drew everyone’s attention. Surrounding Ampere Seale was the Frada Forest. The forest extended for many more miles, but even that expanse was covered by the massive shadow that had appeared from the sea. A gargantuan beast had emerged from the sea, rising up so high that it completely blocked out the heavens.
The black mass descended upon the harbor of Ampere Seale.
The guards at the harbor thought that armageddon had arrived to purge the land of all life. Everyone looked at the scene with pale faces and bulging eyes. The harbor of this ancient city had stood for so long, but now it was being consumed by a massive torrent of water. Dear Marsha, just what is going on?!
The avalanche of waves dragged the entire harbor underwater, crushing the structure beneath its pressure.
Almost immediately, the enormous shadow disappeared beneath the waves once more.
Up above the clouds, a pair of golden eyes watched the scene with much amusement.
“Not bad, kid…”